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Research Topics in

PALEOBIOLOGY

 
RESEARCH GROUP:  Filippo Barattolo (Coordinator), Diana Barra (Professor), Pasquale Raia (Professor), Francesco Carotenuto (PhD),  Federico Passaro (PhD).
 
Associated people: Dr. Giuseppe Aiello, Dr. Antonello Bartiromo, Dott.ssa Roberta Parisi, Dr. Federico Passaro.
 
The remains of fossil organisms provide an impressive amount of data about their biology and the interactions they had with each other and with the environment. The aim of paleobiologists is to analyze this information to understand the evolutionary dynamics that drove the living beings diversification of kinds and shapes.
 
 
Paleobiology of Neogene-Recent benthic foraminifers and ostracod assemblages
The research concerns systematic, biostratigraphic, palaeoecological and ecological studies of benthic foraminifera and ostracod faunas as applied to the resolution of paleoenvironmental and paleogeographic issues of the upper Langhian to Recent.
 
Special attention is given to:
1. Systematics of Neogene, Quaternary and recent ostracods of the Mediterranean area, and Recent ostracods of the of South American coast.
2. Paleoenvironmental, paleogeographic and paleoclimatic reconstructions of Neogene and Quaternary marine, brackish and freshwater successions, also related to prehistoric and protostoric settlements.
3. Study of ostracod and benthic foraminifera microfaunas in Late Quaternary volcanic Neapolitan sediments.
4. Detailed studies of Miocene and the Pliocene-Pleistocene bathial ostracods.
5. Distribution of Recent benthic foraminifera and ostracods in relation to the assessment of the Mediterranean coastal marine areas status (Campania, Southern Italy, Turkey).
 
Paleobiology of carbonate facies
Marine shallow water carbonate facies widely occur in the Southern Apennines. They attain a thickness of 2000-3000m and span the Upper Triassic to Eocene time interval. In such interval two of five major mass extinctions occur (T/J boundary, K/Pg boundary). The rich algal flora (mainly including dasycladales and bryopsidales) and foraminifera allows interpreting the fossil assemblages in terms of bioevents, turnover and changes in ecological conditions. The same microfossil assemblages are commonly used for biostratigraphy and fine age definition of the whole platform succession. The biozonal schemes as applied to the Southern Apennines are roughly valid in the whole Southern Tethys, therefore their use in the age definition of equivalent sediments in boreholes (e.g. in oil research) ranges from the Atlantic African coasts to the Middle East.
Within such topic the following issues are developed:
1) Taxonomy, morphology and evolution of Mesozoic and Cenozoic dasycladalean green algae.
2) Taxonomy, morphology and evolution of Mesozoic and Cenozoic foraminifers, with a special focus to the Lower Jurassic (Sinemurian-Pliensbachian).
3) Biostratigraphy of Mesozoic and Cenozoic carbonate successions of shelf and margin facies.
 
Paleobiology of Vertebrates
Making use of statistical methods, geospatial analysis and geometric morphometrics, we investigate upon the macroecological and phenotypic evolution of vertebrates, especially Cenozoic mammals. Macroecology is a relatively young discipline that studies ecological patterns and processes at a large scale, both in space and time, representing itself an ideal bridge between the paleoecological research, ecology, and modern biogeography.The macroecological models try to explain the relationships between organisms and their environment, their distribution, abundance and diversity, considering the peculiar attributes of the species such as body mass, commonness, range size, and phylogenetic history. Our research focuses on the evolution of paleocommunities, continental and insular biogeographical dynamics and taxonomic and phenotypic diversity of Cenozoic mammals.
 
 
 
Figure 1 - Modelling the evolution of body size during the evolution of land mammals.
 
 
ERC Disciplines
PE10_4 Terrestrial ecology, land cover change,
PE10_5 Geology, tectonics, volcanology,
PE10_6 Paleoclimatology, paleoecology
PE10_13 Sedimentology, soil science, palaeontology, earth evolution
PE10_14 Physical geography
 
COLLABORATIONS:
  • Departamento de Biologia, Unversidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brasil.
  • Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Goias, Brasil.
  • Department of Geology, University of Patras, Patras - Greece
  • Department of Geology, Babes ̧-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  • Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland.
  • Department of Zoology, Faculty of Life Sciences Tel-Aviv University, Israel.
  • Departamentul de Geologie, "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" University of Iaşi, Romania
  • Geological Survey of Iran, Mashhad Branch, Iran
  • Namik Kemal University, Corlu Engineering Faculty, Corlu-Tekirdağ, Turkey
  • Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geoambientali, Università di Bari Aldo Moro, Bari
  • Dipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della Terra, Università di Ferrara
  • Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra,  Università degli studi di Firenze.
  • Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Università degli Studi Roma3.
  • Osservatorio Vesuviano, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Napoli.
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom.
 
SELECTION OF RECENT PAPERS:
  •  Barattolo F., Taherpour M. K. A., Ashrafi M., 2014. Dasycladalean fossil green algae from the Maastrichtian - Paleocene of Balkh province (N Afghanistan). Acta palaeontologica romaniae, 10: 87-94.
  • Stamatopoulos L., Aiello G., Barra D., De Pippo T., Donadio C., Valente A., 2014. Morphological and palaeoenvironmental evolution of the Lagoon of Papas, southwestern Greece, during the Holocene. Ital. J. Geosci. (Boll. Soc. Geol. It.),. 133, (2): 282-293.
  • Barattolo F., Bucur I.I., Kołodziej B., Hoffmann M., Skupien P., 2013. Triploporella remesi (Steinmann, 1903), dasycladalean green alga from the Tithonian–Lower Berriasian of Sˇtramberk (Czech Republic) revisited. Facies, 59: 179-191.
  • Barattolo F., Paolillo L., Vecchio E., Vitale V., 2013. The Paleocene genus Uglasiella Segonzac, 1979 (green algae, Dasycladales) and comparison with allied taxa. Geobios, 46: 173-182.
  • Bartiromo A., Guignard G., Barone Lumaga M. R., Barattolo F., Chiodini G., Avino R., Guerriero G., Barale G., 2013. The cuticle micromorphology of in situ Erica arborea L. Exposed to long-term volcanic gases. Environmental and experimental botany, 87: 197-206.
  • Diniz-Filho J.A.F., Loyola R.D., Raia P., Mooers A.O., Bini L.M., 2013. Darwinian shortfalls in biodiversity conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 28: 689-695.
  • Marturano A., Aiello G., Barra D., 2013. Somma-Vesuvius ground deformation over the last glacial cycle. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 255: 90-97.
  • Piras P., Maiorino L., Teresi L., Meloro C., Lucci F., Kotsakis T., Raia P., 2013. Bite of the Cats: Relationships between Functional Integration and Mechanical Performance as Revealed by Mandible Geometry. Systematic Biology 62(6): 878-900.
  • Raia P., Carotenuto F., Passaro F., Piras P., Fulgione D., Werdelin L., Saarinen J., Fortelius M., 2013. Rapid action in the Palaeogene, the relationship between phenotypic and taxonomic diversification in Coenozoic mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280 (1750): 2012-2244.
  • Aiello G., Barra D., De Pippo T., Donadio C., 2012. Pleistocene Foraminiferida and Ostracoda from the Island of Procida (Bay of Naples, Italy). Bollettino della Società Paleontologica Italiana, 51 (1): 49-62. doi: 10.4435/BSPI.
  • Barattolo F., Shirazi M. P. N., Vecchio E. , 2012. The genus Eodasycladus (Lower Jurassic dasycladalean green alga) and its relationship with Palaeodasycladus. Facies, 58: 445-455.
  • Bartiromo A., Guignard G., Barone Lumaga M. R., Bravi S., Barattolo F., 2012. An Early Cretaceous flora from Cusano Mutri, Benevento, southern Italy. Cretaceous Research, 33: 116-134.
  • Bartiromo A., Guignard G., Barone Lumaga M. R., Barattolo F., Chiodini G., Avino R., Guerriero G., Barale G., 2012. Influence of volcanic gases on the epidermis of Pinus halepensis Mill. In Campi Flegrei, Southern Italy: A possible tool for detecting volcanism in present and past floras. Journal of volcanology and geothermal research, 233-234: 1-17.
  • Fortelius M., Eronen J. T., Kaya F., Tang H., Raia P., Puolamäki K., 2012. Evolution of Neogene Mammals in Eurasia: Environmental Forcing and Biotic Interactions. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 42: 579-604.
  • Raia P., Carotenuto F., Passaro F., Fulgione D., Fortelius M., 2012. Ecological specialization in fossil mammals explains Cope’s rule. American Naturalist, 179 (3), 328.
  • Marturano A., Aiello G., Barra D., 2011. Evidence for Late Pleistocene uplift at the Somma-Vesuvius apron near Pompeii. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 202: 211-227.
  • Maiorano P., Aiello G., Barra D., Di Leo P., Joannin S., Lirer F., Marino M., Pappalardo A., Capotondi L., Ciaranfi N., Stefanelli S., 2008. Paleoenvironmental changes during sapropel 19 (i-cycle 90) deposition: Evidences from geochemical, mineralogical and micropaleontological proxies in the mid-Pleistocene Montalbano Jonico land section (southern Italy). Palaeogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology, 257: 308-334.
  • Aiello G., Barattolo F., Barra D., Fiorito G., Mazzarella A., Raia P., Viola R., 2007. Fractal analysis of ostracod shell variability: A comparison with geometric and classic morphometrics. Acta Paleontologica Polonica, 52 (3): 563–573.